115th Annual Conference - Honolulu, Hawaii
Friday, November 10 - Sunday, November 12, 2017

Other than Aesthetics: The Limit Experience and Not Knowing

Brenda Machosky, University of Hawai`i, West O`ahu

On the premise that aesthetics is metaphysics, and inappropriate to the experience of works of art, this paper will explore alternatives to the aesthetic system that judges works of art. The philosophy of Maurice Blanchot offers this possibility, and Indigenous literatures and arts that are not beholden to western metaphysics of presence and representation provide viable texts and contexts for this exploration.

Proposal: 

On the premise that aesthetics is metaphysics, and inappropriate to the experience of works of art (an argument that will be made), this paper will explore alternatives to the aesthetic system that judges works of art. The philosophy of Maurice Blanchot offers this possibility, and Indigenous literatures and arts that are not beholden to western metaphysics of presence and representation provide viable texts and contexts for this exploration. Aesthetics codifies the desire to know, to find meaning in works of art, and to judge works of art against the criteria of representation. But perhaps not knowing about works of art is more appropriate to the work that is unique and singular to art and literature. Art exists in a space that reason can only pretend to claim. At the work of art, reason reaches its limit. To explore the “other side” of that limit requires the relinquishing of the desire to know. This is the space, the limit at which aesthetics falters and a particular kind of experience must take its place. This paper will offer some initial proposals on what this experience might be like and how it might be articulated in a language resistant to metaphysic and aesthetic drives.